IRVING, Texas (AP) — Stacy Lewis went from all those runner-up finishes to a runaway victory.
There would be no “second-place Stacy” in her home state after a spectacular finish Sunday with family and friends watching at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.
“It’s relief. I’ve been so close the last few months, and just to do it and to do it here of all places,” Lewis said. “It’s one of those things that I almost felt like it was meant to be.”
After six runner-up finishes in her previous 16 tournaments, Lewis shot a closing 7-under 64 to finish at 16-under 268 and six strokes ahead of runner-up Meena Lee. That is the LPGA Tour’s largest margin of victory since Jiyai Shin won the 2012 Women’s British Open by nine.
“I kind of have these mini goals in the back of my mind. … One of them was kind of taking a tournament and running away with it,” Lewis said. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Lewis made a putt from about 25 feet off the fringe at the 540-yard seventh for an eagle. She followed with consecutive birdies to make the turn at 14 under and leading by three strokes. She had birdies the final two holes, punctuating her round with another long putt at No. 18.
It was Lewis’ ninth career LPGA Tour victory, her first since August in the Women’s British Open, and will boost her from third to second in the world ranking.
Defending champion Inbee Park closed with a 72 to tie for 14th at 5 under. That will be good enough when the new world ranking comes out to stay No. 1 for the 56th consecutive week since the South Korean replaced Lewis at the top.
Lewis will supplant Lydia Ko, who didn’t play in North Texas. Ko had moved to No. 2 after her victory a week ago in San Francisco only days after her 17th birthday.
Lee, the South Korean who got the last of her two LPGA Tour titles in 2006, started the final round at Las Colinas Country Club tied with Lewis for the lead. Lee bogeyed the first hole and needed a birdie at No. 18 to finish with a 70 and sole possession of second place.
Michelle Wie, who closed within two before faltering late, had a 67 to finish third at 9 under. It was Wie’s fourth consecutive top-10 finish, including her first win in nearly four years at home in Hawaii after a runner-up finish at the Kraft Nabisco, the season’s first major.
Na Yeon Choi (69) and Kim Kaufman (70) tied for fourth at 8 under. Kraft Nabisco winner Lexi Thompson (69), Cristie Kerr (71) and Suzann Pettersen (72) were among six players at 7 under.
Lewis, from The Woodlands near Houston, has finished outside the top six only once in nine tournaments this year. She was third at the Kraft Nabisco and had another runner-up finish just last week in San Francisco. She had three runner-up finishes in her last eight tournaments in 2013 after her victory at St. Andrews.
Wie was 6 under in a seven-hole span – Nos. 9-15. When she made a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 15, she was 11 under and only two strokes behind Lewis, who had just had her only bogey of the day.
Lewis’ tee shot at the par-3 11th was half-buried in the sand just under the lip of the bunker. She couldn’t save par, but got that lost stroke right back with a long birdie putt at the par-4 12th.
While Wie was finishing with consecutive bogeys, Lewis had an incredible par-save at the 390-yard 15th hole. She hit her drive into the water after deciding against an iron off the tee, but after dropping from about 140 yards hit her approach to about 3 feet.
Wie’s eagle at the 510-yard 10th hole was her third of the week there. But after missing the green at the 180-yard 17th, she hooked her 8-iron approach at the closing par 5 into the trees.
“I thought I had it on 17, just nuked it over the green,” Wie said. “I just hit a wall on the last hole, which is disappointing for me. At the same time, 4-under par on the last day, I’ll take it.”